Because hormones play an essential role in a person's overall health and daily life it is imperative to have a basic understanding of the endocrine system. One of the first and most important points to recognize is that there are in fact no fixed or certain “normal” hormone levels. Each person is different. However, there are some broad parameters which define what constitutes “average” levels.
Ranges of Normal Hormone Levels
Given that the body's entire endocrine system cannot be measured as it functions as a whole, individual hormone levels are often measured and evaluated. The following paragraphs outline different ranges of normal hormone levels for different hormones.
Testosterone levels are typically fairly low in women as compared to men. In fact, it is possible for a woman to have no testosterone production and yet still be relatively healthy. In healthy women, the majority of testosterone production (up to 70%) is derived from the conversion of DHEAS and androstenedione by enzymes within the skin. The rest is secreted direct from the ovaries and adrenal glands.
- Most medical experts would consider a level above 50ng/dl# to be elevated.
- Above 100ng/dl of testosterone in women is symptomatic of some kind of hyperandrogenism.
- If the testosterone is over 200ng/dl an ovarian ultrasound is used to look for any ovarian tumors.
The higher the testosterone level the more risk of hirsutism or androgenetic alopecia if there is no corresponding rise in androgen antagonists (estrogens and SHBG).
Estrogens come in a variety of forms, the most commonly measured being estradiol. Estradiol concentrations in women vary considerably depending on age and the stage of the reproductive cycle.
- The normal range may be anywhere between 50-700 picograms per milliliter.
- At the time of ovulation the range may be between 100-400 picograms per milliliter.
Estrogens cancel out the actions of androgen hormones, thus in effect high estrogen levels reduce androgen hormone activity. As such an estrogen level at the higher end of the normal range is preferable in terms of reducing susceptibility to androgenetic alopecia.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) Ranges
DHEA is a relatively unstable molecule that is usually converted to DHEAS before circulating in the blood stream. DHEA can be converted into more potent androgen forms, for example it can be changed into dihydrotestosterone by enzymes in the hair follicles.
- If DHEAS is over 700 micrograms per deciliter, an MRI is ordered to rule out and adrenal tumor.
- If the DHEAS is between 500 - 700 micrograms per deciliter then further endocrine testing is usually needed to rule out adrenal hyper function such as adrenal hyperplasia.
An elevated progesterone level may indicate reduced fertility, therefore a progesterone test is usually done to confirm ovulation. When a follicle releases its egg, it becomes what is called a corpus luteum and produces progesterone. A level over 5 indicates some form of ovulation, but most doctors want to see a level over 10 on a natural cycle and a level over 15 on a medicated cycle. There is no mid-luteal level that predicts pregnancy. Some say the progesterone test may be more accurate if done first thing in the morning after fasting.
After understanding what normal hormone levels are, click on the following link to discover more information about high hormone level indications in the body.